Briar Hill Nursery

Peter Haddon & Partners, Northampton, 2005


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Main entrance side, facade clad in copper 'shingle' 

Martine Hamilton Knight (website)     Download Original

  • Main entrance side, facade clad in copper     
  • Sheltered play area with sky-viewing rooflights (beyond is the primary school)    
  • Nursery playground, angled skylight provides the opportunity for natural light to illuminate interior space    
  • Main play area space, with views into the reception/ office    
  • A quiet bay which is also used by the children for play and storage    
  • Childrens kitchen in the foreground with the full kitchen beyond    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Cross-section A-A    
  • Concept model showing origins in ideas of building blocks    

Small nursery (175m2) for 26 children aged between three and four, which acts as an end-stop to the adjoining primary school

Shoe-horned between an existing school, a footpath and mature trees, lies Briar Hill Nursery with its brightly coloured boxes strewn across the floor. The main play space is a cube with secondary areas as irregular blocks scattered around.

There is a deliberately obscure physical link between the primary school and nursery, used for occasional staff movement, but not for educational mixing. At the moment, the nursery, on its grass carpet, sits in the tarmac of the larger school. The main security is provided by the building envelope and by fencing that cuts off the rear of the site, with its grassed play area.

The idea for Briar Hill Nursery in Northampton had a simple clarity: Childlike coloured blocks as functional volumes comprising a core and peripheral pods. The original simplicity is modified by the tight site and existing trees, internally by strict space standards and the particular brief, and by the way cladding now wraps several pods in one sweep – in copper that is, variously, bright, oxide brown, tin-coated and pre-patinated green ‘shingles’.


  • Begun: Sep 2003
  • Completed: Nov 2005
  • Floor area: 175m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £450,931
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Jun 2003
  • Procurement: JCT
  • Address: Briar Hill Primary School, Briar Hill , Northampton, NN4 8SW, United Kingdom

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